Two years ago, when I retired after serving 20 years in the United States Air Force, there was no question where I would put down my final roots: Virginia. As a Virginia Beach native, the Commonwealth is home, but it’s also one of the best places to live for veterans transitioning to civilian life. There’s a reason nearly one million veterans call Virginia home. As a business-friendly state, it’s an incredible environment for veteran entrepreneurs like me, and the numerous federal and state Veteran Affairs facilities and Veterans Care Centers across the Commonwealth make health care accessible.
I’m running for the General Assembly to ensure that Virginia remains a friendly place for not just veterans to transition to civilian life, but also for active duty and civilian military personnel. That is why we cannot allow Republicans to maintain control of the House or flip the Senate and gain complete control of the General Assembly. In both the House and the Senate, Republicans will enact abortion bans that will make reproductive care health care harder for women to access. That means military personnel, both active and retired, will be required to leave Virginia to seek health care outside of our Commonwealth.
In the U.S. Air Force, one of the numerous positions I held in the medical field was serving as the noncommissioned officer in charge of aeromedical evacuation (AE). I led ground AE teams both at home station and in deployed environments. The mission of AE is to provide time-sensitive, mission-critical patient care between medical treatment facilities, especially in instances where the current level of care cannot be provided to the patient at their current location. I have seen firsthand how difficult it is, both physically and emotionally, for patients and their families to travel out of state to receive medical care that is not available at home.
I never believed that there could be a day where my fellow airmen would have to coordinate travel out of Virginia so servicemembers or their spouses could receive reproductive care. Any measure that increases abortion restrictions in Virginia would require servicemembers, their families, and veterans to leave Virginia for reproductive care.
This is happening right now in states nationwide that have enacted draconian abortion restrictions. Those serving in the military in states like Ohio and Texas must coordinate travel for service members who can’t receive reproductive health care near their base. That travel is currently being threatened by Republicans in Washington holding up hundreds of promotions and nominations to get between servicemembers and their doctors.
Republicans in Washington and Virginia want to make reproductive care harder to access for women, regardless of its consequences on military families that move around the country and leave their homes to serve. If Virginia wants to remain a leader for veterans and military families, we need to elect Democrats in November to ensure they continue to have easy access to health care.
Author’s bio: Michael Feggans is the Democratic candidate in House District 97 and a U.S. Air Force veteran.
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